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4 Science Experiments You Can Try With Your Child At Home

Learning Science doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult. In fact, most children start off loving the subject!

Sometimes, all it takes are fun science experiments at home to make them realise the subject isn’t as intimidating as they thought it’d be.

Below, we’ve listed 4 science experiments that you can do with your little scientists at home.

Be warned though -- some of these can get pretty messy (and explosive!), so brace yourselves to get messy!

1. How To Make Lightning

If you ever caught your child being amazed instead of being scared during a thunderstorm, you can show them the same phenomenon (though at a smaller scale) up close at home using this fun science activity.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Styrofoam plate or to-go container

  • Aluminum pie pan

  • Pencil with an eraser

  • Thumbtack

  • Wool sweater, wool sock, any wool material or even your own hair

  • Fork

Here’s what to do:

  1. Poke a hole in the middle of the aluminum pie pan. Be sure to make a hole from the bottom of the pan.

  2. Push the eraser side of your pencil into the tip of the thumbtack. The pencil will serve as your handle (you’ll know why later!).

  3. Then, take your wool cloth and rub it into the styrofoam plate. Do this for about 2 minutes. Make sure that you’re fast and that you put a lot of pressure -- mainly to get good static electricity. The longer you do it, the more static electricity builds up, and the bigger the “lightning bolt” can be!

  4. After 2 minutes, put the aluminum pan on top of the styrofoam, thumbtack side down.

  5. For this step, you want to turn off the lights and be in a dark room to see its full effect. Bring the fork slowly to the edge of the pan and see a spark!

How to make lightning
How to make lightning

Use the pencil as a handle to lift the pan, and gently drop the pan again into the styrofoam plate over and over to get another spark.

Eventually the electrons will leave the styrofoam and it will not be as effective as the first time. If you want to charge it again, repeat steps 3-4!

What’s happening here?

Lightning is caused by static electricity within a cloud.

In this case, you’re recreating those conditions -- the negative charges (electrons) in the bottom of the cloud (your fork in this experiment) are attracted to the positive charges (protons) in the ground (your aluminum pie). Hence, creating a small spark.

2. DIY Rock Candy

Kids love candy! So why not make your own candy crystals at home?

DIY Rock Candies
DIY Rock Candies

Materials you’ll need:

  • A barbecue stick, wooden skewer, or a clean wooden chopstick

  • A clothespin

  • 1 cup of water

  • 2-3 cups of sugar

  • A tall, narrow glass of jar

  • Food colouring if desired

Here’s what to do:

  1. Pour water into a pan and bring it to boil.

  2. Pour about ¼ cup of sugar into the boiling water, stirring until it dissolves.

  3. Keep adding and mixing more sugar until the sugar no longer dissolves in the water. You’ll know that sugar isn’t dissolving any longer when the water starts to look cloudy. (Keep in mind that your sugar to water ratio should be roughly 3:1. You can increase the amount of water and sugar depending on how much you want to make, as long as you keep it within the ratio)

  4. You can add candy flavoring and coloring if desired.

  5. Set aside and allow to cool.

In the meantime, prepare your candy sticks:

  1. Measure your stick to a desirable size for the jar that you’re using. To measure, use your clothespin to clip the stick. Hang the stick inside your jar, making sure that there’s about an inch from the bottom of the jar.

  2. Once measured, dip the sticks in water and roll them in sugar.

  3. Set aside and allow to dry.

Growing your candy crystals:

  1. Once your sugar-water is cool enough, carefully pour it into your jar(s). If you have multiple colours, use one jar for each colour.

  2. Submerge the completely dry sugar-coated sticks in the jar, making sure that it’s not touching the bottom or sides of the jar. The clothespin is to prevent it from dipping all the way down to the jar.

  3. Place the jar somewhere cool, and wait for crystals to grow over the next 3-7 days!

What’s happening here?

This is known as the crystallisation of sugar.

Combining cups of sugar with boiling water creates a supersaturated solution of sugar-water. That’s when there’s more solute (sugar) than the solvent (water) can dissolve.

However, as the hot water begins to cool, it can no longer hold the sugar. Thus, the supersaturated solution begins to settle, and the sugar crystals begin to cling to your skewers, forming candy sticks!

The sugar molecules that were originally on your skewer will act as seed crystals. As sugar particles begin to separate from the sugar-water solution, they will cling on and form crystals with other sugar particles that're on the skewer -- thus the sweet result!

3. Lava Lamp

DIY Lava Lamps
DIY Lava Lamps

This kid-safe lava lamp is definitely a must-try for children. Be warned though, because this science activity is so easy and fun to do, they might like it so much they’d want to keep doing it!

Materials you’ll need:

  • A flask, or a clear plastic bottle

  • Vegetable oil

  • Water

  • Food colouring

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Fill the bottle with vegetable oil, about ¾ full.

  2. Fill the rest with water. The water will sink to the bottom and will look like blobs.

  3. Take your food colouring and add a few drops. This will also sink and colour the water that’s now at the bottom of the bottle.

  4. Break an alka-seltzer tablet into a few small pieces, and drop them in the bottle one at a time.

  5. Watch your lava lamp in action! Simply add more alka-seltzer as the reaction slows down.

What’s happening here?

This mini experiment covers the concept of density using water and oil.

Water and oil do not mix mainly because they have different densities. The oil is less dense than the water, so it never sinks to the bottom of the flask. The water and food colouring molecules are polar, which basically means they are strongly attracted to one another, hence they stay together at the bottom.

The alka-seltzer tablet when dropped passes through the oil but reacts with water, releasing carbon dioxide gas bubbles. These bubbles are less dense than the water or the oil, so they float to the top -- but they drag some water droplets up to the surface with them!

Upon reaching the surface, the gas bubbles pop and water droplets sink back to the bottom, creating a lava lamp effect!

4. Make Your Own (Erupting) Volcano

Foam is definitely fun. Explosions? Even better. This last one on the list is a classic science experiment meant for kids to enjoy.

Also, things will get messy in this experiment, so do this outside or in an area you don’t mind having to clear up!

Materials you’ll need:

  • An empty 2-litre soda bottle

  • 10 ml of dishwashing liquid

  • 100 ml of cold water

  • 400 ml of white vinegar

  • Food colouring

  • Baking soda slurry (To prepare this, fill a cup with 50% baking soda and 50% water)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Combine water, vinegar, dishwashing liquid and 2 drops of food colouring into the empty bottle

  2. Mix the baking soda slurry that you prepared using a spoon. Don’t stop until it’s in liquid form.

  3. Once completely mixed, pour the baking soda slurry into the bottle. Do this quickly and step back! Watch as it erupts!

What’s happening here?

This experiment is a classic demonstration of what a volcano might look like when it erupts flowing lava. It also shows the chemical reaction between an acid (present in the vinegar) and a carbonate (present in the baking soda).

When an acid and a carbonate are combined, the reaction produces salt, water and carbon dioxide.

In this case, the carbon dioxide causes pressure to build up inside the flask until the gas leaves through the opening very quickly -- hence the eruption!

Learn Science Concepts The Fun Way With PAL Learning

Doing fun Science experiments at home is one way to spark your child’s curiosity in the subject.

To build a stronger foundation, though, is a completely different story. Consider enrolling them to online enrichment classes, such as the ones offered by PAL Learning.

At PAL Learning, we use augmented reality tools, animated booklets and worksheets, as well as games in our Science enrichment programmes! This means besides being given live online classes, your child is also equipped with interactive materials to engage them throughout the learning experience at home.

If you’d like to find out more about our programmes and how we make learning fun for primary school children, contact us today.

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